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ASU Herberger Mainstage Theatre presents a steamy, modern-day adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Sarah Tully is Juliet and David Ojala is her Romeo in the ASU Herberger Mainstage Theatre production of Romeo and Juliet , Feb. 11-27.
Photo by Tim Trumble.

Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

January 28, 2005

TEMPE, Ariz. - The steamy passion of two young lovers on campus who must contend with familial discontent; a ballroom where theatre goers become part of the scene; swordfights that spill out of the theatre onto the sidewalk. This is director Victoria Holloway's vision for the ASU Herberger Mainstage Theatre production of Romeo and Juliet , Feb. 11-27 in the Lyceum Theatre.

 One of Shakespeare's most popular plays, Romeo and Juliet is the timeless story of first love - romantic, sensuous and forbidden. This modern staging tells the tale of two households of equal dignity, equal hatred, and the violence that stems from their ignorance.

"We don't shy away from Shakespeare's violence, lust or passion in our production," says Holloway, associate professor in the Herberger College Department of Theatre. "It's a story about youth and what happens when communication breaks down. It's about hatred between people and the tragic consequences of it."

The production uses the whole theatre, interior and exterior, and takes place in the present, on a campus in Verona. The actual setting is the bare stage of ASU's Lyceum Theatre.

"Victoria does not fill the theatre with scenery to represent place, but instead allows Shakespeare's words fill the space and set the tone," notes Linda Essig, artistic director and chair of the Department of Theatre.

The Capulet's Ball scene will be staged in the Lyceum lobby, with 24 members of the audience selected to attend per show. The remaining audience will watch scenes that take place away from the ballroom, with the ability to see the ball from a video monitor on the stage.

The dynamic and meticulously choreographed sword fight between Mercutio and Tybalt will be staged outside the theatre on the sidewalk. Chairs will be set up for the audience to enjoy the scene which ends act three, scene one. Intermission will follow and then the audience returns to the theatre for the remainder of the play.

The play's staged combat and sword fighting scenes were choreographed by visiting artist Edgar Landa, a member of the Los Angeles-based Son of Semele Ensemble which was featured in the December 2004 issue of American Theatre magazine. Landa has many fight directing credits to his name including the Shakespeare Orange County production of Othello , for which he received a 2004 NAACP Theatre Award nomination.

“The fighting and violence is designed to show the deep conflict between the characters and have an emotional impact on the audience beyond the entertainment value,” remarks Landa. “The actors trained almost daily for a month, working in partnership to safely and accurately reflect violence.”

"Collectively, Edgar and I have worked on Romeo and Juliet productions a total of 22 times," says Holloway. "I vowed early on that I wouldn't rely on old standards and he agreed.   We have a great creative team on board for Romeo and Juliet ."

Romeo and Juliet contains partial nudity and violence and is recommended for mature audiences.

7:30 p.m. - February 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26
2:00 p.m. - February 13, 20, 27, 2005

WHERE: The Lyceum Theatre, 901 S. Forest Mall on the ASU campus in Tempe

TICKETS: Friday and Saturdays: $20 adults; $18 seniors, faculty, staff and ASU alumni; $5 students. Weekdays: $15 adults; $13 seniors, faculty, staff and ASU alumni; $5 students. Buy-one, Get-one free on the first Friday of any Mainstage production.

INFORMATION: 480-965-6447 or purchase tickets online at

Theatre is part of the ASU Herberger Mainstage Season featuring operas, musicals, dance and music performances. For a complete Mainstage schedule go to, 

Media Contact:
Denise Tanguay